Are good manners on the decline in the United States? A new survey finds that 74 percent of Americans believe that we have become more rude as a nation over the last several decades, according to the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Chicago.
While the study finds that Americans are in general agreement over what constitutes rude behavior, the younger generations are a bit more relaxed in their judgments and behaviors on certain topics, such as swearing or using technology in public.
“There are clear differences between what older Americans and younger Americans consider to be generally rude behavior,” said Trevor Tompson, director of The AP-NORC Center.
“In areas of technology, particularly, almost half of Americans age 18 to 29 feel it is perfectly acceptable to use cell phones in restaurants, for example, while only 22 percent of those over age 60 agree. This same sort of division is apparent in the use of profanity and even in discussions of sex in public.”
Swearing does appear to be increasing with one-fourth of the American general public admitting to daily use of the f-word, an increase of 10 points since a similar survey conducted in 2006. About 34 percent of Americans admit to using profanity in public sometimes.
There is stronger agreement throughout the generations, however, regarding remarks or jokes based on race, gender, or sexuality, with eight in 10 Americans reporting this behavior as inappropriate.
Only seven percent say they sometimes or frequently make remarks about someone’s gender or sexuality in public. There is slightly more acceptance of these types of comments made in private, however.
Eighty percent of the respondents believe that politicians should be held to a higher standard than the general public, and few think they are living up to that expectation.
In fact, two-thirds (68 percent) of the respondents see political campaigns this year as outdoing the general public in levels of rudeness. Only 15 percent of respondents think that politicians should not be concerned about upsetting other people during their campaigns.
Regarding specific political parties, a larger portion (78 percent) of Americans view the Republican campaign as rude and disrespectful. Even 8 in 10 Republicans (79 percent) regard their own party’s process of determining a nominee for president as ill-mannered. In contrast, only 41 percent of Americans see the Democratic campaign as rude and disrespectful.